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Authors: Jennifer Haymore

The Reunion (8 page)

BOOK: The Reunion
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“No, that’s okay.”

“How about a sandwich?”

“No, thanks, and thanks for the ‘you look like hell’ comment, by the way,” she said drily. “I can tell you’ve stopped trying to impress me.”

Grabbing a bottle of orange juice, he turned around, his brows drawn together, making a cute dent over his nose.

“That’s not true, Zo,” he said quietly as the fridge closed on its own. “I’m going to be trying to impress you until the day I die.”

She didn’t know what to say to that. And she usually had a comeback for just about anything.

He stepped forward, set the orange juice down on the counter, and brushed gentle fingertips under her eyes. “You’ve been crying.”

She looked away, not answering.

“Do you have a headache?” he asked softly.

“How…how can you tell?”

“There’s something about your face—your eyebrows”—he stroked a finger over each of her brows—“usually they have an arch to them, but when your head is hurting, they go flat. And here”—his fingers moved to the edge of her mouth—“your lips get tight. I can see the tension in them.”

She still didn’t look at him. “I do have a headache,” she mumbled. “It’s a bad one.”

“I’m sorry. And I’m sorry I put you through that,” he added. “I didn’t know you were coming to San Francisco. If I had, I would have been here for you.”

“Yeah, well.” She gave a shaky laugh. “I’m here now. And so are you.”

“Jake didn’t tell me why you came here. He just said that you were looking for me.”

“I—”

“But it doesn’t matter. Not right now. We need to talk, but I don’t want to have this conversation when we’re both wrecked.”

As much as she wanted a final resolution between them…he was right. She could hardly see straight, not to mention figure out whether her future was going to be with him. She looked down at her fingers tapping restlessly on the black granite. “Okay.”

“I’m going to give you a bath. Then I’m going to tuck you in. And you’re going to have a good night’s sleep.”

“You look just as exhausted as me,” she complained, though even she could admit it was a halfhearted complaint. “You smell like recycled airplane air. You’re probably dead tired. I bet you didn’t get any sleep last night.”

“I got a little.”


Humph
.”

“Right. When all you have to say to me is ‘
humph
,’ I know you’re done. Come on.” He took her hand and led her through the master bedroom she’d avoided last night and into his bathroom, an enormous space, all gleaming cream-colored Italian tile and black marble. There was a huge tub in the center of the room. He started the water and turned to her. “I don’t have any bath salts or bubble bath or any of that girly shit.”

“Good,” she said. Because she knew Nathan well enough to know that if he had any of that stuff in his house, a woman would have brought it. And she didn’t like the thought of any other women in Nathan’s house.

He helped her out of her coat, which he hung on a hook behind the door. When it was off, he gently pushed her hair over her shoulder and kissed the back of her neck. A shudder tickled down her spine, her body automatically responding. Nathan, unlike any of the other guys she’d been with, had discovered that erogenous zone on her quickly. It had been the first time they’d slept together, the summer before junior year.

They’d both been new to sex that time. It had been so sweet between them, all discovery and exploration.

She pulled in a shaky breath. “Nathan…”

“Don’t worry. Nothing’s going to happen, babe. Not yet, anyway.”

She shuddered again from the promise in his tone.

He helped her undress, keeping his movements economical, though when she’d stripped down to her bra and panties he gave her a once-over that brimmed with male appreciation. But then, as if he couldn’t stand it another second, he stepped back. Without making eye contact with her, he cleared his throat. “Uh…I want to help you into the bath, but…ah…maybe I should let you”—he waved his hand in her general direction—“finish this up yourself.”

How his bumbling made her feel so sexy, she’d never know. “You like my underwear?” she purred.

His gaze shot to hers, and the look he gave her seared her deep in her core. “Yeah,” he said, his voice so husky it sounded like it was crackling.

“Okay.” Her voice was deep at a level almost on par with his. And though every part of her was silently begging him to stay with her, the rational part of her told her that she was too tired and too confused and her head hurt too much, and if she was too close to him right now, she might have sex with him. Or she might pour her heart out to him, tell him she was in love with him, couldn’t live without him, and beg him to stay with her forever. “Then you should go.”

“All right. You’ll let me know when you’re finished?”

“Of course.”

“Don’t fall asleep in the bath, okay?”

She gave a small, sarcastic snort. “Right. You don’t need to worry about that.”

 

* * * *

 

But she did fall asleep. Nathan returned once, to bring her a glass of orange juice and a sandwich, even though she had declined both, then left her to her own devices. The bath was so warm and huge, and the soap she washed with gave the water a silky feel. There was an indentation at the porcelain lip of the tub that was perfect for her to rest her head into. She reached for the sandwich, which was so delicious she almost inhaled it, then she drank down the OJ.

When she’d finished eating and drinking, she lay back, stretching her limbs, then relaxing them, thinking about Nathan. Why he’d flown to DC. Why he’d come home when he learned she was here.

Had he gone to DC for her? Like she’d come to San Francisco for him?

The next thing she knew, Nathan was talking.

“Zo? Get up, babe.”

She opened her eyes, shifting in the water, which had gone lukewarm.

She blinked hard. “I wasn’t asleep.”

He smirked. “Sure.”

He held out the biggest, fluffiest white towel she’d ever seen. “Come on. Get out.”

She hoisted herself out of the tub and stepped into the waiting towel.

“Oh my God,” she moaned, cuddling into it as he wrapped her tightly. “It’s so warm. Was it just in the dryer or something?”

“Towel warmer,” he said, and she groaned with pleasure.

“I got your bag from the car. Here’s your toothbrush.” He handed her the toothbrush, then turned away and told her over his shoulder, “I’m going to turn down the bed. I’ll be right back.”

“Thanks.”

She brushed her teeth, and when she was done, he came back for her. He led her out of the bathroom, into his bedroom, and toward his king-size bed.

She was awake enough to look at it dubiously. “Where are you going to sleep?”

He gestured to the other side of the bed. “Over there.”

It probably wouldn’t be wise to sleep in the same bed as him, not when she wasn’t at all sure where they stood. She cleared her throat. “Then I shouldn’t sleep here. Obviously.”

“Sure you should.” He nudged her forward.

She drew the towel tighter around her and raised a brow at him. “I need to get my pajamas out of my bag.”

“I know for a fact you like to sleep naked,” he said.

“That was years ago. For your information, I sleep in PJs every night these days.”

“Not with me,” he said softly, and he gestured toward the turned-down bed. “You’re going to like it in my bed.”

The possessive way he said that made that sweet, warm feeling flush through her again.

“Now get in the bed, babe. I know you have a headache, so I promise to be good.” He held up three fingers. “Scout’s honor.”

She snorted. “I think I should sleep on the sofa.”

“No way, Zo.”

She gave him a defiant look.

“I dare you to lie down for two minutes, then get yourself up and out of this bed and go to sleep on the couch.”

She cocked an eyebrow at him. She could never resist a challenge.

He just stared at her with that impenetrable gaze.

“Dammit. Okay.” She dropped the towel and pretended to ignore his little growl of appreciation at the sight of her nudity. Before he could see too much, she slipped into the bed and drew the covers up over her naked skin.

Immediate bliss. Zoey closed her eyes and murmured, “Holy crap, Nathan.”

The bed was so soft it was like lying on a cloud. The covers were warm. He must have a bed warmer as well as a towel warmer. She pulled the covers higher until they brushed her chin. “How is it possible for a bed to be this comfortable?”

“I’m magic that way.”

“You’re magic in a lot of ways.”

She kept her eyes closed as he gently pushed a strand of hair from her cheek. “Sleep, Zo. We’ll talk in the morning, okay?”

“Okay,” she whispered, already half asleep, drifting away on the warm, cozy cloud that was Nathan’s bed.

 

* * * *

 

“Nathan?” The call came from his bedroom.

She was awake. Finally. Nate glanced at the clock on his oven to see that it was only seven forty-five, but it felt like he’d been awake and waiting for her forever. He scooped up the rest of the eggs onto a warm plate already containing hash browns and bacon, set it on the tray, and carried it into his bedroom.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.”

She scowled at him. “What the hell? This is all wrong. You never wake up before me.”

“Today I did.” He didn’t know why, but that gave him a full, satisfied feeling. He held out the tray. “How’s your headache?”

She rubbed at her forehead for a second, then her lips curled in a tiny smile. “Completely gone.”

“Good. Want some breakfast?”

“Uh…you’re bringing me breakfast in bed?”

“That’s right.”

She gave him a deeply suspicious look. “What do you want?”

Not yet. Not yet.
What he
wanted
was to grab her, pull her into his arms, tell her exactly what he wanted, then spend the rest of the day making love to her. But this was Zoey, and he wanted to do it right.

“I want you to eat some breakfast,” he said firmly.

He came and set the tray beside her. She scooted up, resting her back against the headboard. He realized that she’d slipped on one of his old T-shirts at some point. Why she looked so sexy in his faded old Mayday Parade T-shirt was beyond his comprehension, but she did.

“Where’s your breakfast?”

“I already ate.”

“This is so weird.” She shook her head. “I’m in San Francisco, I’m being served breakfast in bed, you’re here…and you’re not acting like Nathan.”

“Which Nathan?” he asked. “The one you knew once, or the Nathan I’ve been for the past few years?”

“Nope, neither Nathan.” She groaned softly and thunked her head back against the headboard. “Lovely. I’m speaking in alliterations now.”

“You need some breakfast,” he agreed, setting the tray on her lap. “Come on. Eat. Or I’m going to have to feed you.”

She gave him a narrow-eyed look. “Maybe you should. The old Nathan used to like feeding me. Maybe it’ll prove to me you’re you.” She hesitated, then amended, “The old you.”

“Eat,” he said firmly. He took her fork. “And while you’re eating, I’ll tell you a story.”

“A
story
?” She closed her eyes in a long blink, then pinched her arm, hard. “Yeah. Feeding me aside, I’m definitely in an alternate universe.”

He scooped up some egg on the fork and brought it to her lips.

“All right, all right.” She grabbed the fork from him and ate the bite of egg. “Yum.” She frowned at him. “You learned to cook?”

“A little.”

“Weird.”

“Okay, shut up so I can tell you this story.”

“Fine.”

“But you have to keep eating.”

“Fine!”

“Good.” He watched her take a bite of bacon, and then he began. “Once upon a time, in a land not very far from here, there was a spoiled rich kid who knew exactly what he wanted. He’d known riches his whole life, but he wanted more. He dreamed of piles and piles of gold and treasure.”

“Sounds like just about all my friends,” she muttered.

“Shh.”

“Okay, okay. Go on.”

“He wanted a fortune beyond his wildest dreams, and he was willing to do just about anything to get it. All his friends in his school had even more money than he did, and he was a competitive kid. He was determined to show them that when he grew up, his pile of riches would be greater than theirs.”

“Mmm-hmm,” she said over a mouthful of food. “Tough ambition when one of those friends owns a frigging
island
.”

He ignored her and continued. “So he went to the most prestigious, most exclusive college he could find, where he met tons of other rich kids whose wealth he felt compelled to surpass. But then he met a girl.”

“Ah. The girl is always the foil, isn’t she?”

“Shh.” He frowned at her, then continued. “She was different from all the other girls. She’d come to this prestigious, exclusive college through hard work and determination, not because her parents paid her way in. She was a poor girl, yet she stood head and shoulders above all the rich girls.”

“Couldn’t be me,” she announced. “I’m short.”

“It’s a metaphor,” he said.

She shrugged and took another bite. Impossible woman.

“He was immediately attracted to this girl,” he continued. “She was funny and so damn smart she knocked the socks right off of his feet. She aced all her classes and tutored others. She was fun. She charmed everyone.”

Zoey put down her fork and was looking at him with an expression he couldn’t decipher.

“Most of all,” he continued, “she was the most selfless and giving person he’d ever met. Instead of wanting to take everything she could from the world, all she wanted to do was give back, to make it a better place. She was a true hero in the midst of all this materialism that had made up the boy’s world to that point.”

“Was she now?” Zoey said softly.

“He fell in love with her.” His voice had turned sandpaper rough. “He’d never met anyone so perfect, who impressed him so much, who made him so happy he could hardly stand it.”

“Nathan,” she whispered, but he held up a hand to stop her.

BOOK: The Reunion
8.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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